Facebook isn’t content to know just who you are, what you do, where you go, and who you talk to. It also wants to know how you spend your money.
On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is asking banks – including JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup – to turn over financial data on their customers.
The social media giant is reportedly interested in everything from customers’ account balances to their credit card transactions, people familiar with the matter told The WSJ.
Apps like PayPal and Venmo have dominated the growing mobile commerce arena, and banks want a bigger piece of the pie. A partnership with Facebook could help them do it.
In return for financial data, Facebook is offering banks a presence on its Messenger app, sources told The WSJ. That app currently boasts 1.3 billion users and serves as the company’s commerce center.
Messenger users can already send and receive money via the app. For now at least, users have to opt-in to link it to their bank account – a partnership with banks might link users directly to their banks (no word on whether Messenger users would need to opt-in to the service).
They can also use it to directly contact the customer service representatives of Facebook’s credit card partners. Perhaps Messenger could act as that communication conduit for banks as well.
Facebook has also suggested that it could perhaps integrate banks’ fraud alerts or account balances into the app.
So, that’s how this partnership could benefit banks. Meanwhile, Facebook is asking banks to team up so that users will want to spend most time on Messenger (because too many leave to go check their account balances on banking sites?).
Oh, and it promises it wouldn’t use customers’ financial data to improve its ad targeting.
“We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana told The WSJ.
“We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships, or contracts with banks or credit card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.”
So far, banks have declined Facebook’s offer of a partnership. At least one has cited concerns over customers’ privacy.
And these banks should be concerned.
Facebook has proven time and again that it plays fast and loose with users’ data, and while it’s not cool for some random third-party to know you check in at Chipotle twice weekly, it’s way less cool for them to know exactly how much money you have, especially considering Facebook would presumably need to connect Messenger to the servers of banks to provide this information in real-time.
Do we really want to give hackers another way to get to our funds?